Mobile Application Privacy Concerns Arise
It is no surprise that there are millions of mobile applications available to download onto Smartphone or Tablet PC’s from various mobile application marketplaces such as Apple’s iTunes Mobile Application Marketplace and Google’s Android Mobile Application Marketplace. With so much growing demand and attention being focused towards mobile apps, it is no surprise that there are also critics that have their own opinions on the popularity of mobile apps and the negative impact these mobile applications can and are having on its users.
One new concern that has been arising in the past few months is the issue of children and mobile applications. Accordingly to a recent report published by the Federal Trade Commission, a vast majority of the mobile applications intended for children offer no privacy information, which makes it difficult for parents to make informed decisions on which mobile apps are safe to let their children use and which are not. One of the causes of this issue is that there is very little information supplied on a mobile applications promotion page which states what information the mobile application collects and which information it does not collect. For example, one mobile application may have the ability to access and collect one’s contact information from their Smartphone or Tablet PC while another mobile app may only collect the relevant information for the game such as high scores; but the point is: it is unclear to the user to be informed what information the mobile application will collect and what information it will not collect from the promotion page.
This issue of what information is being collected, by whom, how it is being used and whether it is shared with other parties can be very concerning to mobile application users as Mobile Application development Marketplaces such as Apple’s iPhone Application development Marketplace or Google’s Android Application development Marketplace share very little relevant language regarding mobile app data collection or sharing. At the same time, Apple and Google do not require mobile application developers to disclose that specific information. Yes, even though the mobile application developers agreement does require the mobile application developer to disclose information their mobile apps collect, the mobile app store do not appear to enforce these requirements as strictly as they should.
This issue initially started off with mobile applications on Smartphone devices and the rise of mobile gaming applications but with the introduction of Tablet PC’s such as the iPad, the issue has now carried over to the Tablet PC sector as many children use Tablet PC’s to play mobile application games. Although there seems to be no specific solution to this issue right now, one common piece of advice that many mobile application developers have been giving is to always check and review the permissions a mobile application requests before the mobile app is downloaded onto a Smartphone or Tablet PC.